Cardiff Uni refuses to let sexual assault victims appeal their perpetrator’s punishment

But they do allow the perpetrator to appeal

Cardiff University regulations for reporting sexual assault forbids victims from appealing the decision in their case – but allows alleged perpetrators to, The Tab Cardiff can reveal.

In March 2019, Cardiff University student Aliza claims she was raped after a night out. Aliza told The Cardiff Tab that she was walking home from a club when she realised she had forgotten her keys, so texted a boy she considered a friend. When she went back to his, the two fell asleep. “I woke up to him assaulting me” she said. “The next morning I went and had forensic testing done and went to the sexual assault referral center in Cardiff. I did what I thought were all the right things. But I was never taken seriously.”

Her alleged perpetrator was allowed to remain at the uni and she said no action was taken against him for the rape, only for drinking and “running away from the case”. Aliza wasn’t satisfied with the case’s outcome, which was marked as ‘resolved’ in August 2020. She told The Cardiff Tab: “I asked if I could appeal this decision, but was informed that I had no option to do so. Upon further research, I discovered that the perpetrator did have the option to appeal. It baffles me that they are just getting away with this.”

Alleged victims do have the option to complain, but not to appeal. Aliza was also told to prioritise “consideration” before she submitted any kind of complaint. “I feel that they don’t offer the appeals process to victims because they do not want to deal with us anymore,” she said. “The process is so incredibly long and drawn out that I feel a lot of people would stay silent because it is draining to complete. To me it’s textbook victim blaming.”

A Cardiff University spokesperson told The Cardiff Tab: “Students who are subject to investigation under University procedures have the opportunity to challenge an outcome using the University’s Review Procedure. Other parties who have involvement in the investigation process have the opportunity to raise a complaint with the University under the Student Complaints Procedure if they are dissatisfied with the way in which an investigation case has been handled.”

They added: “University procedures are subject to regular review and consultation and are in-line with good practice frameworks issues by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA).”

The student had proceeded with the formal complaint process in February 2020, whilst the case was still open, as she was unhappy with how it had been handled. She described the experience of filing the complaint as “overwhelming”.

Aliza told The Cardiff Tab: “Obviously the assault was very traumatizing for me, but I am a firm believer that a majority of my mental health issues come from not being believed, a system that is just completely broken, victim-blaming, and the process of having to recount my trauma time and time again, which lay in the hands of the University.”

The student says that her request for a tuition refund (due to time missed at university because of PTSD) was considered but resulted in her being offered alternative course accommodations, as well as being told that another option was to withdraw.

“That leaves me today, still waiting for results of my complaint, feeling defeated. I am sick of the lack of closure, and that sickness lit a fire within me to help incite true systematic change. That is why I shared my story on facebook, finally decided it was time to tag Cardiff University, and drop the anonymity.”

The student took to the Facebook group ‘Overheard at Cardiff University’ to share her story, and seek support from others as she asked them to consider writing letters to the university on her “and all other victims’ behalf”. She has had a wide response to her post and says: “To those that messaged me, shared my post, sent emails to the university, or have advocated/supported me in any way, thank you so much. The goal is to incite real change, and you are now a part of that.”